Hello dear readers!
We are about to start exciting ups and downs between the narrative peaks. We hope the end of this chapter doesn't cause you too much trauma.
Umbridge has gotten creative.
Umbridge is beyond our comprehension
Here we go!
Chapter 18. Owl Time
Diagon Alley seemed brighter to Harry. He sometimes had to cover his face with one hand to shade himself when he read the posters of the wizarding shops. Lily laughed when she noticed that her son was staring too long at an indefinite point.
"Did you lose your memory and no longer remember the Alley?" She asked him jokingly.
"It's not that, mom… it's… there's a lot of light today," he justified.
Lily exchanged a look with Snape and they continued on their way. They had stopped by Madam Malkin to get clothes for the boy, as well as a coat, because he seemed to have hit a sudden stretch. Then by Flourish and Blotts, because Snape had recommended some reading for the rest of the course. He noted how neglected Harry's cauldron was for his Potions class, and they also looked for a new one. The boy sometimes felt strange among so many attentions. It was one thing to be at Hogwarts under Snape's gaze, and another at home, with Lily willing to look at all the details and make amends for what could be amended.
"I'm sorry, honey, your hair has no solution," she commented as they passed a magical barbershop, where scissors flew alone over the mane of a stretched-out wizard. "Hmm, I think I already know what happens to you..."
Harry tensed, but Snape came to the rescue:
"He's looking forward to meeting his friends, Lil," he said as he leaned on the boy's shoulders. "That's why he looks like an owl and looks at everything... which reminds me... son, didn't you want to buy one...?"
"Yes!" Harry exclaimed, perhaps too quickly, because Lily frowned. "I mean, mom, I find it terrible to use the school owls all the time, so I decided that the best thing is to have one."
"Don't you think Whiskers be angry?" Lily pointed out. "He is used to having your full attention."
"I don't think that be a trouble, besides, the owl will be in the tower, Whiskers, in my room. At home…" he remembered the cat's grimace when he told him he'd have a new friend, "it's manageable too."
"You should at least bring him a gift to make up for it."
"That was what I had in mind."
"Since everything is cleared up, we're going." Snape kissed Lily on the lips and pulled Harry away. "We meet again at Florean Fortescue!"
Harry waved goodbye to his mother and followed Snape, who was suddenly more serious than usual. At the Eeylops Owl Emporium, Harry encountered Draco, who was stocking up on owl trinkets.
"Hi, mate!" He exclaimed as they shook hands. "What are you doing here? Do you get things for Whiskers?"
Harry looked at Snape. He was near the door, chatting with Draco's parents. The adults were tense, as if expecting something... far removed from a surprise party. Malfoy also noticed Harry's unease and shook his head from side to side.
"My Aunt Bella visited us last night… with that deranged James," he whispered as they walked between the cages. Harry had already fixed his eyes on a white owl. "A servant cleared his throat and James almost killed him..."
"Get to the point," Harry asked as he stopped in front of the bird.
"My badge, the one Weasley gave us..." Draco said, his voice becoming lower, "dawned darker today. And my parents before my aunt's visit didn't want to come to the Alley, even though Snape invited them… and here we are. Something's going to happen today, Harry. I'm sure my Aunt Bella told my parents about it, and they just told Snape about it."
"Then the recruits are going to be summoned."
"Yes, it's the only thing that fits. And it will be near the Alley, or did you not notice how many families are here today?"
"Mmm. Do you know if Pansy came?" It slipped from Harry. He raised a finger and the owl pecked it fondly.
"Yes, she is with her parents at Madam Malkin. He wanted a new dress gown. Don't think that because she agreed to help us she will be nice to you in private."
"I'm prepared for that." Harry held out an arm to the owl and it leaped at him confidently. He unhooked the chain from the hanger. "I'm taking this... Hedwig..."
Harry crossed the room, careful not to trip over other cages, until he reached Snape and the Malfoy lords.
"Dad, this is the one I want," he announced.
Snape glanced at the animal, but it was the Malfoys who spoke:
"Very conspicuous," Lucius declared and leaned gently toward Harry, who forced himself to remain in place. There, he was not his enemy. At least he hoped he didn't put any old Voldemort journals in his pocket. "Are you sure you take that one? You can choose another..."
"Thanks, Mr. Malfoy, for the advice, but I'm definitely taking this one," Harry interjected. "Dad, can you take care of paying it? I'd like to go with Draco to find Pansy."
"Yes, of course." Snape received the snowy owl on his arm. "Where will you stay?"
"At Florean Fortescue, mom is going there too, right?"
Snape nodded and the friends left the establishment in a hurry. Pansy was already at the ice cream parlor. She asked her parents for permission to sit with her boyfriend and friends. As long as they were in contact with other people, Pansy was affectionate towards Harry. At least her effort had to be highlighted. However, when the three of them were at the same table with ice cream served, her attitude cooled.
"There are a lot of students in the alley today," she observed. "Do they intend to call you all, in broad daylight?"
"Sometimes to hide something, you have to put it where everyone can see it," Harry said. "Yes, Draco suspects that we will be called."
"My parents decided to come in," Malfoy sighed, "for the same reason Snape did: they want to keep me from being within reach of James Potter. I don't know how they are going to do it, really..."
"Dad made a deal with Padfoot," Harry explained. "It didn't end well... but Padfoot will try to keep James in check."
"I wouldn't bet on that," Pansy said, and she scooped up the last scoop of strawberry ice cream to eat with pleasure. "From what I know, someone unbalanced always finds a way to get away with it. When they're sane, that's when you have to fear them: they're professional manipulators."
"How do you know that?" Draco asked.
"An uncle of mine is in the hospital," she explained, shrugging. "Psychologists usually explain many things to relatives, so that they do not give in to these speeches. I think the important thing is... how are they going to get out of this?"
"Dead," Malfoy said with a grimace. "It's how unique you get out of the ranks of who-you-know."
"That's right on my timeline too," Harry confirmed when Pansy looked at him, "but I always thought there might be a solution..."
"Only if everyone forgets about us," Draco sighed.
"It's a possibility," Harry scratched his chin, "we could… think about that. Modify the memory of the Death Eaters who take care of us so that they forget us...?"
"And what will you do with Umbridge and McGonagall? Worse: the-know-it-all Granger and that Weasley." Pansy asked, turning the spoon between her fingers. "Also, if yours parents are already inside… they won't forget them so easily. Above all, who-you-know."
Harry and Draco grimaced at the same time. Because the problem was similar to a swamp: the more strokes they gave to try to get out, the more they sank. Suddenly, a white owl flapped on the edge of the table and the boys were scared. Harry, however, exclaimed:
"How quickly you became attached to her," Draco commented as the other offered the bird his arm.
"It's a matter of nostalgia." Harry lost his smile a bit as he remembered that she wasn't the Hedwig of his timeline. "Ah, she has a message..."
The three got together to read the letter. Harry didn't point out the invasion of privacy, because, in the end, the message affected everyone.
´They will be summoned you all in Knockturn Alley. When the owl takes flight, follow it. I will distract your mother and take her home, then I will join you.´
The boys exchanged a look.
"How is a newly purchased owl supposed to lead us to a Death Eater gathering?" Draco questioned.
"She's got something else on the other leg…" Pansy raised the white feathers and everyone could see the caravel insignia tied neatly. "Of course, this is how she is going to guide you."
"It's not mine." Draco put a hand in a pocket and pulled the badge from it.
"It's mine, I gave it to dad last night, so he would also know when we were summoned. And guess what to do if mom was around." Harry sighed and leaned back in his chair. "And the Knockturn Alley thing, that information is from your parents, Draco, anything else I need to know?"
"No, nothing more ...
The owl flapped its wings and hooted impatiently. Draco cursed and dropped the insignia on the table. From black it had turned red-hot from a hot iron.
"Looks like it's our signal," Harry murmured.
"Poor Hedwig!" Pansy exclaimed in concern when she noticed the animal shifting uncomfortably and trying to bite its leg. "That must hurt! Harry, do something...!"
The boy did not point out to her that it was the first time she had called him by his name since they broke up. Instead, he tried to catch Hedwig, who took off with a snap of his beak and glided down Diagon Alley. Harry and Draco said their goodbyes to Pansy on the run, advising her to go home with her parents, while they ran after the bird. As Mr. Malfoy commented, the owl was so conspicuous that many pointed a finger at it.
"I hear a whisper!" Draco gasped. He raised the insignia to his ear and his eyes widened. "Is… my Aunt Bella…?"
"What does she say?" Harry asked without losing sight of Hedwig.
"An address… in Knockturn Alley," Draco relayed. "Look, we are not the only ones!"
Harry identified more teenagers walking through the crowd in the same direction as them. They had a hand over their left ear. Some looked scared. Others happy and confident. A few, euphoric. He didn't like those one bit. Hedwig flew into a street and Harry and Draco almost tripped over two girls who also twisted there.
Soon the brilliance of Diagon Alley faded into Knockturn Alley. None of the wizards who passed by, some with hidden faces, were concerned when they suddenly saw a herd of teenagers who seemed to hold their ears. And that they were following a white owl. Harry wondered how Snape would later know where to find him.
The animal and Bellatrix's voice led them to a shop without signs, with the glass display case dusty and full of cobwebs. The door was open. Two of the most anxious teenagers took it upon themselves to break the ice and cross the threshold. Harry watched them get lost in the blackness. More and more boys and girls dared to cross until only Harry and Draco were left with Hedwig, who was perched on one of the first's shoulder.
"Find dad," Harry whispered to the bird. "Guide him here..."
The owl hooted and took flight until it was lost over the houses.
"She really bonded with you fast," Draco commented.
"I hope so, or dad will never find this place... do you think your parents have already crossed?"
The boys approached the threshold, took a deep breath as if they were going to dive into the sea, and crossed. Harry gasped as he felt himself fall. He didn't see Draco, he didn't even see himself, as if he had gone blind. He spun in the air until his feet touched a solid surface and the blow shook him to the point that his teeth collided.
He had already regained his vision. Draco was next to him, wide-eyed and knees bent, as if he was preparing to take a spectacular leap. They were surrounded by all the teenagers who would accompany them on the mad dash through Diagon Alley and Knockturn.
"Welcome, young Death Eater!" Exclaimed a woman's voice, and everyone reacted with startles. "Attention to me, please!"
Harry huddled with Draco and the rest of those summoned. He saw Bellatrix on some kind of wooden platform. She, beautiful, with seductive eyes and abundant black hair, wore a dark dress with a corset. However, it was not her manic expression that frightened Harry.
But the fact that James Potter was next to the woman and looked more deranged than her.